I recently returned from my first ever visit to the Middle East. For the past five years my family and I have been a part of the Guild Training Network and have immersed ourselves in an Arab Muslim ethnic community in the greater Los Angeles area. As we have been seeking to incarnate the Good News and catalyze a Jesus movement from within the community, we have eagerly sought to learn from and understand the worldview of our neighbors. We have enjoyed hundreds of traditional Arab meals, celebrated dozens of significant cultural and religious events, and spent hours in meaningful (and often seemingly meaningless) conversations. We’ve learned a lot along the way…and have been changed for the better.
As I was recently in Jordan on my first trip to the region, I was struck by how natural and normal the environment felt. I almost felt at home. I did not feel the the typical initial “culture shock” that I have felt before traveling to other countries like Brazil, Peru and Mexico. I was not weirded out by men greeting each other with extended kisses on the cheeks, and it felt normal to see the majority of women covered with hijabs and avoiding the glances of men as I walked the streets.
I truly believe these past five years of living among and engaging the Arab Muslim community where we live is one of the biggest reasons for my feeling “at home” among a very foreign and drastically different culture than my own. The training and mentoring we’ve received as part of the Guild Training Network has definitely impacted the way we see the world and the way we are able to adjust to new cultures and places. And for this I am very grateful!